What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system similar to Windows and OS X. The operating system is the software on a computer that enables interface between hardware and user and is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of a computer. Unlike other operating systems Linux is open source which means you get access to its source code and can modify it to meet your needs.
Linus Torvalds (creator of Linux) enrolled at the University of Helsinki in 1988 where he studied computer science. After buying a PC with an Intel 386 CPU, he began using Minix, a Unix-inspired operating system created by Andrew Tannenbaum for use as a teaching tool. Linus was not impressed with the system in general and in particular he lamented its inability to do terminal emulation, which he needed so he could connect to the university’s computers. Linus decided to do the terminal emulation program himself, independently of Minix. These were the first steps toward creating Linux. Linus quickly developed the terminal emulation program. However, Linus began thinking that it would be nice to be able to do other things with it like transferring and saving files (Linux is born). In August, 1991, Linus announced on Usenet that he was working on this operating system:
From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: < 1991Aug25.205708.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI >
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki
Hello everybody out there using minix –
I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and
professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing
since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on
things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat
(same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)
among other things).
I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.
This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and
I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions
are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them 🙂
Linus ( email@example.com )
PS. Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.
It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never
will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.
Linux is predominantly known for its use in servers, although can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from embedded devices, mobile phones, mainframes and supercomputers. Linux has a reputation as a very efficient and fast-performing system.
The Linux kernel and most GNU software are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL requires that anyone who distributes the Linux kernel must make the source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. In 1997, Linus Torvalds stated, “Making Linux GPL’d was definitely the best thing I ever did. Other key components of a Linux system may use other licenses; many libraries use the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a more permissive variant of the GPL, and the X Window System uses the MIT License.
Torvalds states that the Linux kernel will not move from version 2 of the GPL to version 3. He specifically dislikes some provisions in the new license which prohibit the use of the software in digital rights management, and it would also be impractical to obtain permission from all the copyright holders, who number in the thousands.